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Lightning pay for slow start in shootout loss to Avalanche

Tampa Bay has yet to own a lead in regulation, but still has five points in the standings.
Lightning right wing Corey Perry (10) and Colorado Avalanche left wing J.T. Compher (37) scrap during the second period Saturday night at Amalie Arena.
Lightning right wing Corey Perry (10) and Colorado Avalanche left wing J.T. Compher (37) scrap during the second period Saturday night at Amalie Arena. [ CHRIS O'MEARA | Associated Press ]
Published Oct. 24
Updated Oct. 24

TAMPA — The Lightning certainly have better hockey in them, and they are convinced they will play better with a lead. Now it’s just getting there.

Following another early deficit and third-period comeback to force overtime Saturday night at Amalie Arena — the Lightning lost 4-3 to the Avalanche in a six-round shootout. The Lightning have yet to play with a lead in regulation. Still, Tampa Bay (2-2-1) has five points in the standings.

They have yet to score first, and have zero first-period goals, forcing them to chase. On Saturday, the Lightning lost on Colorado defenseman Cale Makar’s shootout goal following a scoreless 3-on-3 overtime.

Both the Lightning and Avalanche are expected to go deep in the playoffs, but have struggled early on. Colorado came to Amalie Arena having lost three straight, matching their longest losing streak all of last season.

“There’s been some ups and downs like I’m sure every team has had,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. “You look at that team we just played and everyone’s picked them to win the Stanley Cup, and they came in here 1-3. So everybody’s going through their challenges.”

Cale Makar (8) celebrates his shootout goal with fellow Avalanche defensemen Jack Johnson (3) and Bowen Byram (4).
Cale Makar (8) celebrates his shootout goal with fellow Avalanche defensemen Jack Johnson (3) and Bowen Byram (4). [ CHRIS O'MEARA | Associated Press ]

The Lightning had 12 shots and nine scoring chances in the first, but came up scoreless in the opening period. Colorado (2-3-0) took a 1-0 lead into the first intermission on Gabriel Landeskog’s goal.

“It’s not going to last forever,” Cooper said of his team falling behind again. “We did leave some plays out there. And sometimes it’s the plays you leave out there in the first 20 (minutes), not the ones you leave out in the last 20, and in the first 20, we left some plays out there.”

The Lightning were stifled by penalties throughout the night, forced to kill off two Avalanche power plays in the first six minutes. Colorado’s power play unit — usually one of the most dangerous in the game — came into the night 1-for-19 before converting its sixth and final man advantage opportunity.

“We need to have better starts, we get behind the 8-ball with the penalties,” said Lightning captain Steven Stamkos, whose early third-period goal tied the score at 2 and placed him second on the Lightning’s all-time scoring list. “It wasn’t a bad effort. We found a way to get a point. It’s just when you give a power play like that six opportunities, they get one there at the end, unfortunately, and you go into a survival mode.”

Lightning center Steven Stamkos (91) celebrates his third-period goal against the Colorado Avalanche with center Brayden Point (21) and defenseman Erik Cernak.
Lightning center Steven Stamkos (91) celebrates his third-period goal against the Colorado Avalanche with center Brayden Point (21) and defenseman Erik Cernak. [ CHRIS O'MEARA | Associated Press ]
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Avalanche star center Nathan MacKinnon’s power-play goal 9:50 into the third gave Colorado a 3-2 lead and came after a controversial tripping penalty on Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy. Moments after MacKinnon’s goal, Avalanche goaltender Darcy Kuemper hooked Point skating around the net, but the play went uncalled, prompting an outcry from the Amalie Arena crowd.

“We took way too many penalties,” Cooper said. “That’s unacceptable. We can control that. Do we agree with all the calls? No, especially the last one. The guy goes into the blue paint and the goalie is protecting against a wraparound gets called for a penalty. But in in the end there was much more to it before that that you just can’t do.”

Center Brayden Point scored a 6-on-5 goal with 2:35 remaining in regulation to knot the score at 3. Working with an empty net, the Lightning won a faceoff in the Avalanche zone, and defenseman Victor Hedman drew attention to himself at the left point, then passed to Point, who had open space nearing the slot and rifled a shot past Kuemper, sending the Lightning to their third overtime game of the season. They had won the previous two.

Both of the Lightning’s first two goals were greasy. Forward Mathieu Joseph, elevated to the second line with Nikita Kucherov out, tied the score at 1 6:34 into the second. Joseph charged the net and cleaned up a loose puck past Kuemper.

Stamkos’ goal — his fourth of the season — came 3:44 into the third after defenseman Ryan McDonagh jumped in the play and rifled a shot from the right circle. Ondrej Palat then won a loose puck to the right of the net and fed Stamkos for a redirection in the crease.

“Sometimes you need greasy goals,” said Joseph, who was injured by a knee-to-knee hit with Mikko Rantanen late in the second, but returned in the third.

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